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Collapse clouds signs of progress

Jamie Siddons remains convinced his team has made strides over the last two weeks

James Anderson grabbed Tamim Iqbal second-ball, as Bangladesh slumped towards defeat, England v Bangladesh, 2nd npower Test, Old Trafford, June 6, 2010

Tamim Iqbal was a star performer in this series, but Bangladesh need more of his ilk to silence the doubters  •  PA Photos

There will be a lot of familiar headlines on Monday after Bangladesh twice subsided inside a session. Sport moves on quickly and the stories will question the team's ability and probably their right to play Test cricket. After providing such impressive resistance at Lord's, and then making England work hard for a day-and-a-half at Old Trafford, it was a bad time to fold so meekly.
However, coach Jamie Siddons remained convinced his team had made strides over the last two weeks. "Don't write us off too much," he said. "If things had gone our way we could have knocked England over for a bit less then it's up to our batsmen. We have two or three who can do that but the others need to catch up. We are still on a learning curve. We are easy-beats when conditions suit here, but certainly not at home or in India or as we showed in New Zealand.
"Whatever they say we've heard it before, no doubt about that," Siddons added about the flak his team will get. "We played three good days at Lord's, our top order was really good and our middle order is normally much better than that. They did come in during some bad conditions at Lord's but here they should have applied themselves better. We've got a couple of players who are standing up but others aren't and we need consistency."
Admittedly 10 years after making their Test debut it is requiring a heap of patience to believe that Bangladesh will eventually become a force in the longer format, but over the last two weeks there have been enough signs that progress is being made. Certainly compared to their visit here five years ago, where the two Tests at Lord's and Chester-le-Street were both wrapped up in little more than two days, there have been significant advances.
Top of that list has been the performance of Tamim Iqbal who scored 268 flamboyant runs in the two matches, while in terms of individual development the performance of Imrul Kayes, his opening partner, has been heartening after he looked a walking wicket in the first innings at Chittagong in March.
Bangladesh are not due to return to England until 2020 but what they need is more overseas experience in these conditions, not less. The problem is, though, that they are a tough product to market and it's a credit to Lancashire that the crowds at Old Trafford have been strong, especially on the opening two days. It is also why players like Tamim are vital because they make the team marketable and will encourage other nations who play in different conditions to invite them.
"We have put in such hard work with the batsmen," Siddons said. "We had a good session with Tamim the other day but the spin was too much. If it spins a lot or swings a lot we are in trouble. Our wickets do spin but our young players aren't used to that sort of pressure. They didn't cope that well.
"When conditions are good and not doing too much we are competitive with any team in the world and can take them to five days," he added. "But we haven't got enough matchwinners to win the games yet. Our fast bowlers aren't good enough to run through sides, but with our spinners, Shakib has shown he can take five-fors and he's a world-class spinner."
However Siddons knows collapses like they produced at Old Trafford do their image no favours and only add fuel to the fire for those who question why they sit at cricket's top table with so little to show for a decade's work.
"I'd hate to come back here and put that performance up again," he admitted. "We need to be better and it takes time to get people ready for that type of swing bowling. We've got Tamim and Shakib, who is a much better player than he showed here. But we have good things to work on, that's what makes coaching this team such fun."
It takes quite a phlegmatic character to be able to think of fun after a 34th innings defeat in 68 Tests, but Siddons has had plenty of experience with dealing with the situation. "You have to pick them up all the time but to their credit they keep coming back."
Bangladesh's next assignment is the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka before they return to England for a three-match one-day series in July. Don't be surprised if over the next month they upset major opposition in a format where their deficiencies aren't so ruthlessly exposed. Progress is being made even if it doesn't always look that way.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo